Claremore High School seniors Jordan Cunningham and Waylon Whorton put the pens to the paper Wednesday morning and signed national letters of intent to play college football in the fall.
Cunningham (5-11, 195) announced his decision to attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah; while Whorton (6-2, 250) will continue his career at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.
“I never even expected this day to happen,” Whorton said. “It’s just one of my dreams coming true.”
Whorton, who is projected to play on the defensive line, added that Southwestern College assistant coach Jimmie Tagg pursued him and made the offer.
“After taking a visit, meeting the players and coaches, and seeing the campus, I felt like it was the right decision for me,” Whorton said.
Whorton agreed that the success of the Zebras this past fall — finishing with a 10-2 record — was one of the main reasons he received attention from the college coaches.
“I give a lot of credit to Coach (Brian) Key for showing me what it takes to play at the next level,” Whorton said. “He’s a tough coach and one of the best in Claremore.”
Cunningham leaves behind a legacy that will be hard to top.
Over the past three years on the varsity, Cunningham anchored the Zebra defense and recorded more than 460 tackles — including 191 this past season — en route to earning Class 5A All-State honors.
The Zebras outside linebacker agreed with Whorton that Wednesday marked a defining moment in his football career.
“I’ve been dreaming of this day ever since my first football game in elementary school,” Cunningham said. “Right now, it doesn’t seem real. It’s so exciting, though, to have this decision behind me.”
Cunningham is projected to play safety or outside linebacker at NSU under defensive coordinator Steve Patterson, who was a football coach at Claremore HS in 1993.
“I love destroying people,” Cunningham said on his attitude toward playing defense. “... Going after the ball and putting the hurt on people, that’s my mentality on the field.”
Cunningham said NSU was the choice over UCO and Missouri Southern.
“They wanted me so bad and put all their heart into it,” Cunningham said. “Plus, they’re giving me a full scholarship.”